While HDR is currently all the rage, there are currently four standards all with different advantages and disadvantages. There’s the commonly known HDR10 and Dolby Vision, as well as Hybrid Log Gamma and Technicolor. Despite the four standards vying for relevance, Samsung and Amazon have partnered up to introduce yet another one – HDR10+.
Unlike Dolby Vision, Hybrid Log Gamma and Technicolor, HDR10+ is an open standard. That means it has quite a bit in common with the current HDR10 standard. There are a few key differences, however, with Samsung saying that HDR10+ is a significant upgrade to the current standard, with users set to enjoy many of the benefits of Dolby Vision, but without manufacturers being forced to pay a license fee.
The current HDR10 standard utilises static metadata that doesn’t change during playback, despite specific brightness levels. As a result, image quality may not be optimal in some scenes. For example, when a movie’s overall colour scheme is very bright but has a few scenes filmed in relatively dimmed lighting, those scenes will appear significantly darker than what was originally envisioned by the director.
This is a problem that Dolby Vision doesn’t suffer from, as its metadata is based on a frame-by-frame basis, allowing directors to fine-tune exactly how they want their content to look. Well, that’s exactly what is now available with the HDR10+ standard – with it now enjoying Dynamic Tone Mapping.
HDR10+ incorporates dynamic metadata that allows a high dynamic range (HDR) TV to adjust brightness levels on a scene-by-scene or even frame-by-frame basis. That means that HDR10+ produces images that are much closer to the director’s intent.
Like Dolby Vision, however, content creators will still need to encode the metadata into their content before TVs can decode it. Dolby has already got a head-start, with content creators teaming up with the company to offer their movies and TV shows in the HDR format. Samsung will have some catching up to do, but thankfully it has already found itself a good partner – Amazon.
Amazon Video already supports the HDR10 standard, as well as Dolby Vision, but the streaming giant is now ready to add support for HDR10+. That’s not all that surprising, with Netflix more commonly being associated with Dolby Vision – meaning this is Amazon’s opportunity to stand out from the crowd.
“Together with Samsung, we are excited to offer customers an enhanced viewing experience on a broad range of devices,” says Greg Hart, vice president of Amazon Video, worldwide. “At Amazon, we are constantly innovating on behalf of customers and are thrilled to be the first streaming service provider to work with Samsung to make HDR10+ available on Prime Video globally later this year.”
Samsung has also teamed up with Colorfront to incorporate HDR10+ mastering into its ‘Transkoder’ system used by post-production houses. The electronics manufacturer also worked with MulticoreWare to integrate HDR10+ into the x265 high-efficiency video coding (HEVC) codec used by UltraHD Blu-ray, Netflix and satellite and terrestrial broadcasters.
“As an advanced HDR10 technology, HDR10+ offers an unparalleled HDR viewing experience — vivid picture, better contrast and accurate colours — that brings HDR video to life,” says Kyoungwon Lim, vice president of visual display division at Samsung Electronics.
“We’re excited to work with world-class industry partners, including Amazon Video, to bring more amazing HDR content directly to our 2017 UHD TVs, including our QLED TV line-up.”
Despite the excitement, Samsung’s new HDR10+ standard won’t exactly be a Dolby Vision-beater. Sure, it’ll offer the dynamic metadata that Dolby’s HDR standard has become famous for – but there are a few features missing from HDR10+.
CE Pro Europe noted that Dolby Vision was amongst the greatest advancements in TV technology, citing the fact that the standard had been created with future TVs in mind. That meant that Dolby Vision was a sure-fire investment for Hollywood studios, that needn’t worry about it being usurped by another standard. That’s because it included support for the wider 12-bit colour range and a maximum 10,000 nit brightness – two things current TVs can only dream of supporting.
Dolby Vision doesn’t only look forward either, as the technology is also backwards compatible. HDR10 requires manufacturers to support the HDMI 2.0 standard, whereas Dolby Vision supports anything from HDMI 1.4a.
Samsung is offering the HDR10+ standard to manufacturers for free, however. Although that hasn’t stopped other manufacturers from paying Dolby a license fee – in fact, most of the big manufacturers, including LG, Sony and Philips support Dolby Vision. Currently, Samsung and Panasonic are the biggest names to snub the format.
Samsung has already committed to bringing its HDR10+ standard to all of its 2016 and 2017 UHD TVs. All of the company’s 2017 UHD TVs, including its QLED offering, already support HDR10+, although those with a 2016 set will have to wait for a firmware update, which will be available in the second half of this year.